Approximately 70 child pedestrians, who were between the ages of 5 to 15 years of age were severely injured in Ohio during the 2010-11 school year.
As the summer winds down, and students are back in school, an area police chief encourages motorist and pedestrians to stay alert in residential areas, near schools and in school zones.
“The first week of school is where we see the most problems,” Cridersville Police Chief John Drake said.
Children arriving late for the bus may dart into the street without looking, or sometimes a child may not be paying attention to traffic, so it is important to follow traffic laws, and for motorists, and pedestrians, to be extra cautious, especially around school zones.
Drake reminds motorists that they need to pay attention to the speed limit, and realize that the school children have been out of school all summer, so they are getting back into a routine.
“Be aware of surroundings and cars,” Drake said. “Children need to stop at stop signs, look both directions twice before they walk across the street and be aware of driveways along sidewalks.”
A state official said all people can help provide reminders about safety.
“Schools, families and students are changing from summer to school year routines, so this is a good time to remind motorists to be prepared to see children walking to school and bus stops in the early morning hours,” Ohio Division of EMS Director Jeffrey Leaming said. “Parents and teachers can help by reminding students to be aware of their surroundings to keep themselves safe while traveling to and from school.”
Also, it is important for pedestrians to cross at crosswalks while on their way to school. They should always walk, not run, while crossing the street.
Motorists should look for children who are walking or riding their bicycle to school, and to know neighborhood school zones and to watch for young people who may not be paying attention to their surroundings.
Leaming note motorists are reminded to observe the law and use caution when driving near school buses.
“There is no passing on either side of the road when a school bus has its red lights flashing,” Leaming said, noting all vehicles at an intersection must stop when children are exiting or entering a bus. “The flashing lights mean a child is leaving or entering the school bus. Motorists should be vigilant near schools and slow down to obey all posted school speed limits as well.”
The yellow flashing lights on a bus indicate that the bus is preparing to stop to load or unload children, and this indicates that motorists should slow down and be prepared to stop.
Red flashing lights and extended stop arms indicate that the bus has stopped, and that children are either getting on or off, and motorists must stop their cars and wait until the red lights stop flashing, the extended stop sign is withdrawn and the bus begins moving before motorists can start driving again, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.
Drake said that the speed limit in a school zone is 20 mph, but motorists should go a little slower, so they have reaction time to react and stop.